A sign encouraging fans to get vaccinated outside of a vaccination tent during an event sponsored by the California Department of Public Health to increase vaccine awareness at a Club America vs. Atlas FC soccer Match at PayPal Park on July 7, 2021 in San Jose. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

published on November 30, 2021 - 3:43 PM
Written by Gabriel Dillard

President Joe Biden on Monday reassured Americans that the omicron variant “is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic” — raising questions about the strategy Gov. Gavin Newsom will employ to respond to a form of COVID-19 about which much remains unknown.

The governor, who returned to California late Sunday night after a Thanksgiving trip to Mexico, hasn’t publicly addressed the omicron variant apart from a Saturday tweet urging Californians to get vaccinated and boosted.

But local governments and school districts are moving ahead with their own plans to clamp down on the virus. San Diego Unified School District, which on Sunday was temporarily blocked from implementing its student vaccine mandate due to a clause allowing pregnant students to seek exemptions, said Monday that it’s already taken steps to remove that clause and expects the mandate to be reinstated shortly.

Also Monday, the San Diego City Council approved a vaccine mandate that requires all city employees to submit proof of vaccination or request a medical or religious exemption by Wednesday. The move comes despite intense opposition from the city’s police officer union, which reported that about 709 officers, or 37% of department employees, were unvaccinated as of Nov. 17.

Assistant Police Chief Paul Connelly: “I think it’s obvious that any loss of our valuable employees will negatively affect our staffing levels and in turn affect our ability to meet the community’s expectations to serve them effectively and efficiently.”

The Los Angeles Police Department, meanwhile, has begun termination proceedings for five officers and one civilian employee who failed to agree to the terms of the city’s vaccine mandate; more could be fired if they don’t meet the Dec. 18 inoculation deadline. And Los Angeles on Monday began enforcing its order requiring nearly all indoor businesses to verify customers’ vaccination status.

Today also marks the deadline for Sacramento City Unified students to submit proof of at least their first vaccine dose. Students who remain unvaccinated by Jan. 30 will be moved to remote learning, the school district said. Such requirements have pushed some California families to sign their kids up for “learning centers,” programs that aren’t considered schools in the eyes of the state and thus don’t have to abide by vaccine requirements

The coronavirus bottom line: As of Sunday, California had 4,801,843 confirmed cases (+0.4% from previous day) and 73,656 deaths (+0.4% from previous day), according to state data. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

California has administered 58,136,893 vaccine doses, and 67.5% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.

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